This week saw the arrival of yet more young pups. They certainly do have the ‘ awww’ factor but the fact of the matter is that the future is very uncertain for young pups taken away from their mums too early.
Most decent breeders will make sure that the ‘mum to be’ is in tip top health and fully vaccinated well before mating even takes place. This ensures that the necessary antibodies are passed to the pups . Antibodies are passed in two ways, first of all to the pups through the placenta and secondly to the pups in the colostrum,the specialized milk produced by the mum for the first one to two days after giving birth. Colostrum provides the puppy with protective antibodies, and it is extremely high in calories, protein and vitamins. Therefore, it is critical that a puppy nurses within the first 12 to 24 hours to obtain the important benefits of colostrum. This is called passive immunity.
Antibodies received from mum generally circulate in the pups system for several weeks so pups born to mums which haven’t been vaccinated or pups who don’t receive colostrum are at a distinct disadvantage and are at risk from any infections they come into contact with. After the short period of colostrum production, the pups caloric, protein, fat, vitamin, mineral and water requirements are matched perfectly by the nutritional content of mum’s milk.
Pups taken away from their mum after birth that haven’t had their mums colostrum have few defences against infection and are at high risk from any infection. Apart from the antibodies and perfect nutritional content of mum’s milk it is also delivered at the correct temperature, at the correct speed to pups in the correct feeding position. WOW…try replicating that with a bottle of milk replacer!
It’s for all of the above reasons that we sigh instead of ‘awww’ when young pups arrive at the refuge. The window of risk for pups, between about three weeks and when they can be vaccinated ( active immunity) is often when they are abandoned. The refuge is a very dangerous place for pups with compromised immune systems and they are at severe risk from infections such as parvovirus or even distemper. All we can do is isolate them to protect them from infection and bottle feed them until they can be weaned and then vaccinated.
Please, please sterilise your dogs and don’t produce unwanted pups. Unless pups are nurtured as nature intended, with their mums, they are at risk and none of us would want that for the dogs of the future!
Pups need to be with their mum, like my pup Zac ( on the left). He stayed with his mum until he was 8 weeks old!